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'Tale of resilience': Israeli woman's brave acts during Hamas attack turn her into national hero

On a historic note, Rachel Edri was among the Israelis invited to meet with President Joe Biden during his visit to Israel. She received commendations for her bravery, and her story captivated the nation.

Edited By: Nitin Kumar @Niitz1 Jerusalem Updated on: October 19, 2023 13:08 IST
Image Source : AP Rachel Edri, center, from Ofakim in southern Israel, poses for a portrait with Doron Almog, Jewish Agency Chairman.

In the midst of the Israel-Hamas war, a remarkable tale of resilience and bravery emerged as Rachel Edri, a 65-year-old woman, became an unlikely folk hero in Israel. Her quick thinking and remarkable actions in the face of danger have endeared her to the nation, symbolising the spirit of everyday Israelis thrust into harrowing situations as Hamas militants terrorised southern communities.

A fateful encounter

Rachel Edri's ordeal began after an early morning air raid siren sounded in her hometown of Ofakim. Returning from a bomb shelter, she was confronted by a group of armed Hamas militants who had entered her living room. Outside, gunfire raged and thus began a 20-hour-long encounter marked by a unique blend of hospitality and brutality.

Unlikely bond with militants

Despite the dire circumstances, Edri, displaying remarkable courage and humanity, engaged with her captors. She shared conversations and offered them refreshments, including canned pineapple, tea, Moroccan cookies, and even a choice between Coke Zero and Coca Cola, which she thoughtfully provided. She sang Arabic songs with them, and they responded with Hebrew tunes. In the process, the militants became noticeably calmer.

Rescue and recognition

After 17 hours, a rescue team led by Edri's son, Eviatar, who is a local policeman, arrived to save her and her husband. With Eviatar's detailed sketch of the house, the rescuers surprised the militants, ultimately leading to their demise. Despite the heavy damage to their home, Edri and her husband were relocated to a hotel in central Israel.

Internet sensation and national symbol

For her audacious actions and unwavering spirit, Rachel Edri has been celebrated online and in national media as the embodiment of the quintessential Jewish mother, a stereotype associated with hospitality and generosity. Israelis have even likened her to the biblical character Yael, who used food to disarm and ultimately slay an evil general.

A community's courage

The Gaza Strip militants breached Israel's heavily fortified separation wall, entering Ofakim and over 20 other border communities, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 48 residents. In response, a group of civilians, armed with pistols, courageously confronted the Hamas militants who were wielding assault rifles.

A testament to resilience

Rachel Edri's brother, Shimon Koram, expressed his lack of surprise at her incredible actions, citing their upbringing in a working-class family of 12 siblings in Ofakim, which instilled in them the spirit to endure and navigate life's challenges. In Shimon's words, "We learned to survive and acquired the wisdom of life like street cats. You can see that in how she acted," as quoted by news agency AP.

Also read | Israel-Hamas war: After Joe Biden, UK PM Rishi Sunak to visit Israel today



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